The Nigerian Citizens Association South Africa (NICASA) has expressed concern over profiling, xenophobia and unlawful killings of Nigerians on allegations bordering crime, yet to be brought for trial in a competent court of jurisdiction.
The President-General of NICASA, Mr Benjamin Okoli, made this known in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday.
Okoli said that the Nigerian community was dismayed at the number of Nigerians so far killed, as a result of hate, xenophobia, stereotype and nationality profiling of compatriots in South Africa.
According to him, this issue has become worrisome, in terms of the recent mob attacks and killings of Mr Nicholas Omodele, in Kimberly, in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa.
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“Omodele was killed by a group of locals who attacked and killed him over a business issue between the deceased and a South African; Omodele was a businessman married to a South African with a four-month-old baby.
“There was a second victim to this inhumane and senseless attack, Mr Chinonso Ezenwosu, attacked alongside Omodele, but was lucky to have survived and escaped death and the killers still roam the street freely. The second incident in the city of Vereeniging involved a group of South Africans employed as taxi drivers, who became law enforcers, judges and executioners when they attacked and killed two Nigerians in the City over accusations of dealing in drugs.
“It is important to note the same group of taxi drivers arrested seven local police officers, as reported by the local media, on the same allegations of drug dealings and handed them over to Police authorities without hurting them. NICASA have noticed a pattern of nationality profiling, xenophobia and hate killing of our nationals on allegations bordering on crime has not been brought before any trial judge, convicted over the subsequent killings,” he said.
He described Nigerians as great people with a sense of fear living under siege, not knowing what would happen next or who would be profiled and killed.
Okoli said that such was frustrating without any arrest let alone conviction of the suspected killers of compatriots, who walk the street freely.
He explained that the lives of Nigerians do not matter, as their cases were handled with levity, their deaths were considered inconsequential and good riddance to bad rubbish.
“Our lives have no value or so the authorities here have made their citizens to believe, hence they derive joy in the killing of Nigerians and other foreign nationals, who they considered as roaches that have to be exterminated.
“NICASA is inundated with calls from concerned Nigerians who feel very vulnerable over the spate of recent killings of compatriots by South Africans. This is because the police add salt to injury, by refusing to either open a case for Nigerians who come to police stations to open a case, like the case of Omodele with no case number assigned, the family of the deceased tried to get a case number, yet to no avail. Now that makes you wonder how the investigation will go,” the NICASA President added.
He said that the Association had appealed to Nigeria’s High commissioner to South Africa, Nigeria Consul General to South Africa and the South African government to protect Nigerian Citizens from attacks and killings by South Africans.
“The deaths and concerns from Nigerians in South Africa have become a burden too heavy to bear by the leadership of NICASA. Late 2021 and early 2022, our community suffered enormous loss of lives of our citizens in connection to cult-related killings and no arrest has been made, neither anyone was prosecuted nor convicted over that spate of killings.
“Couple of years ago, precisely 2019 and 2021 our community suffered a huge loss of lives and businesses from xenophobia attacks, arson, looting and associated criminality that occurred in the period mentioned.
“We are yet to recover from losses occasioned by those attacked and COVID-19, then this spate of attacks and killings started happening. The South African department of home affairs also does not help matters, this office continues to make life very difficult and miserable to Nigerians and other foreign nationals,” he lamented.
He decried a situation whereby permit holders become illegal at the expiration of their permits after application for their renewal.
“You have become systemic, whereby the home affairs officers collaborate with business partners to fleece applicants or they become classified as illegal,” he said.
He narrated ordeals of unjust denial of permits to applicants by giving flimsy excuses, so that compatriots would go through their agents, who charge, as much as R25000 (1,700 dollars) to R35000 (2,381 dollars), to acquire the same permit that was earlier rejected by the same home affairs.
“Home Affairs has become a business centre; birth certificate and other documents duly issued by the Nigerian authorities and confirmed by the Consulate has suddenly become suspected fake document, just to reject and make you use the service of their agents. Application that was supposed to take between three to six months, now takes between two years to five years to get a response. Only last week, Mr Alabi Olumide Jolayemi, another Nigerian businessman and owner of ‘Black Door’ an upmarket night club was kidnapped outside a public function and nothing has been heard from him or his kidnappers. Recently, a group of South Africans activists under the name ‘Operation Dudula’ has taken the laws into their hands, in an attempt to sanitise their towns of crime and rid the country of foreigners. This group targeted and attacked Nigerian businesses in Kimberly Northern Cape province, where they illegally evicted legitimate businesses from the premises,” he said.
He said that as of March 21, Operation Dudula invaded Nigerian own businesses, threw out their merchandise and article of trade onto the streets and locked the empty shop under the protection of the local police.
He said that the NICASA Provincial Chairman, Mr Darlington Ezem, approached the Police to stop the unprovoked, unwarranted attack and illegal eviction but the police responded that they were only there to make sure there were no attacks on persons.
He also said that the association had contacted the Consul General and the High Commissioner who had assured to let the South African authorities stop the menace of attack and illegal eviction of compatriots.
He, however, said that Mr Gideon Yohanna, Nigerian Deputy High Commissioner, Mr Usman Idris, a Minister in the High Commission and Okoli, had visited the Northern Cape Province to meet the Police Authority and the Nigerian community over the matter.